Banking, Finance & Services
A revised indictment, handed up last October, accused the 19 of "devising, marketing and implementing fraudulent tax shelters" as well as preparing "false and fraudulent" income tax returns containing the shelter losses, and with hiding all of this from the government. The case is the largest criminal tax case ever filed by the government.
There's one group of people who should be giving thanks daily for the Enron scandal: the partners of KPMG, one of the Final Four accounting firms. That's because the fallout from Enron is what allowed KPMG to extract a favorable settlement from the Justice Department last week. The firm agreed to fork over less than a year's profit in return for not being indicted on a zillion counts of cheating the government by peddling sleazy, dishonest tax shelters for six years.
Ian Hannam, a senior JP Morgan banker and ex-soldier, who helped finance a number of flamboyant and controversial mineral extraction projects from India to Tanzania over the last couple of decade, has resigned, after being fined $720,000 for insider trading by the UK Financial Services Authority.
Three Barclays bankers made more than $15 million in 2011 salary packages, with the CEO making $28 million. The numbers were revealed under a pact made by the banking sector with the UK government, under Project Merlin, sparking outrage.
The plea bargain last week by former Enron Chief Accounting Officer Richard Causey gives federal prosecutors the chance to present a shorter and less technical case against former company Chairman Kenneth Lay and former President Jeffrey Skilling. The pair's trial on conspiracy, fraud and other charges is scheduled to start in Houston on Jan. 30.
In early May, the Obama administration announced plans to eliminate the advantages that multinationals have over domestic corporations as to the tax treatment of reinvested profits. K Street corporate lobbyists haven't squealed so loudly since they lost their three martini lunches. The uproar draws attention away from the fact that U.S. multinationals enjoy an effective tax rate of just 2.4 percent on billions of dollars in foreign active earnings.
Richard F. Scruggs, a Pascagoula lawyer who rose to prominence as he helped win a $250 billion settlement from the tobacco industry a few years ago, argues that in selling home insurance with many references to windstorms and hurricanes, Nationwide and other insurers led customers to believe that any hurricane damage - whether from wind or water - would be covered.
Four big scandals have come to light in as many months at big blue chip companies - Volkswagen, DaimlerChrysler, Infineon and Commerzbank. In each case, allegations of bribe taking, money-laundering and related crimes have led to the resignation of senior executives.